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Delivering Medicine By UAV

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the calling-dr.-drone dept.

Medicine 87

Buffaloaf writes "The brilliant minds at Singularity University are developing an internet of things they dub the Matternet which plans to deliver drugs and other small necessities to people in extremely remote locations by UAV. From the article: 'This particular class of S.U. was focused on solving problems for "the next billion people," those without access to modern technology. Matternet tackled the problem of getting drugs and diagnostic or test materials to people in rural areas in developing countries that don't have access to passable roads during rainy seasons. The company proposed building a network of robotic drones to deliver medication quickly and very cost-effectively--even less than a guy on a dirt bike costs.'"

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Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

evanism (600676) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241442)

Problem?

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241652)

They're already doing this with boats.

But more on-topic, this is a great idea, even first-world countries might benefit from UAVs used for delivering things like anti-venom or maybe even organs. A UAV should fire up much faster than a manned heli and cost less.

And imagine the bandwidth of a UAV loaded with MicroSDs!

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242022)

UAVs would be better than boats. They are small enough to have almost no radar signature, and a lot more expendable. If your drug-boat is captured, you lose valuable smugglers and all the invested training and experience. If your UAV is captured, you lose a cheap plane and some cargo, but that's all.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242134)

True, but how much cargo can you deliver with a UAV vs. a boat? Remember that the UAV gets much more expensive as it scales up.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 3 years ago | (#37243168)

But they get cheaper if you order 10,000 of them. What is the profit on one UAV-payload of hard drug of your choice? What percentage of UAVs would have to get through, to keep that profitable?

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37243522)

Trailer Park Boys did this with model trains in season 6.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 3 years ago | (#37246148)

It occurs to me that if you're (not _you_ obviously!) plan was to shift multiple small shipments of drugs via UAVs, then the logical conclusion to this would be to cut out the middle-men, aka drug dealers, and just ship direct to the customer! As bad as this sounds, it does amuse me that drug dealers could find themselves out of a job.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#37243920)

Guess how light drugs are at weight -> value, and you can see that this would be incredibly easy to do. A few bottles of fake viagra worth 20 grand sent across a sea for pennies, cost is basically just time? done.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37244686)

UAVs would be better than boats. They are small enough to have almost no radar signature, and a lot more expendable. If your drug-boat is captured, you lose valuable smugglers and all the invested training and experience. If your UAV is captured, you lose a cheap plane and some cargo, but that's all.

The boat captain might be valuable simply from the fact he can drive a boat and knows the smuggling route, but the rest of the guys are going to be your basic, entry level footman. Drug cartels already see smugglers as expendable, because they generally expect to lose some shipments every time they go out. These are guys picked up off the streets and given probably a couple hundred dollars a month (maybe every 2 weeks if they are lucky). They have no education, little training, and have no clue who is in charge. A boat can carry several hundred pounds of drugs. Any easily available UAV would have a payload of a few pounds. Anything able to carry more than that would be very high profile and certainly tracked/monitored by the authorities. The cost/benefit ratio is still strongly in favor of bulk shipments.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#37246024)

So why not build a UMV, (Unmanned Marine Vehicle) then you have both benefits, no arrests and large cargo.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37248386)

> you lose a cheap plane and some cargo, but that's all.

Contrarily smugglers are not as valuable as single kilo of coke. To drug cartels, humans are replaceable, but time and effort put in to produce narcotics and committed delivery agreements are not. If UAV crashed while smuggling a kilo across the border, there has to be a backup standing by to retrieve that cargo at all cost. Also distributing small amount of narcotics using massive numbers of undetectable UAV has to account for more inherent failures (strong wind, mechanical failure, signal disruption, greater chance of detection by border patrols, difficulty of retrieval) than single large payload delivery using shortest path from point A to point B; for example, submarine, bribing border guards, etc. I think, this makes small UAV as a drug smuggling device impractical.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (2)

randomaxe (673239) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241708)

Well, there is a problem, but it has nothing to do with UAVs. The problem is that there is a market that is not served by legitimate means, and that this market is large enough to float operations that could potentially afford to purchase/build UAVs to smuggle/distribute their product over borders. The solution is not to ban the UAVs, but to satisfy the market via legal means, such as legalizing regulated sales of the more popular controlled substances. But then, we've known that for a while now, the end of prohibition being a shining example.

If memory serves, it is generally the opinion of everyone with a functioning brain that, for all situations wherein technology makes an illegal act easier, the correct solution is not to ban the technology.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (2)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242054)

If memory serves, it is generally the opinion of everyone with a functioning brain that, for all situations wherein technology makes an illegal act easier, the correct solution is not to ban the technology.

With the slight addition: if that technology has an actual useful purpose (which could be the illegal act itself, or something else). I don't think free access to VX nerve gas would do society a lot of good.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (2)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242910)

Well then the correct solution would be to remove the need or desire for people to want to gas each other by using the resources of the Earth responsibly and efficiently, utilising the best known science and technology, without the restrictions of imaginary ownership and contrived money sequences, to create a society conducive to peace and health. Peace and health are values which have no cultural relativity. Only a really insane person would want to destroy such a system, and reducing self-destructive behaviour like the destruction of another person is what a society conducive to health would be about. There would be no need for dominance and subordination because everyone could be fed, housed and educated equally and freely, driven by their own inborn desire to better themselves and thereby bettering all others. Science shows that dominance and subordination are not conducive to health. And science is not a cold thing or only half of the picture, it's literally the understanding of nature, which is the Universe and everything in it including ourselves. Technology is the application of science, and includes everything from wheels to computers. To build a society along these lines and thereby aligning with our understanding of the state and functions of the Universe is, of course, natural and conducive to peace and health. A Utopia is not possible unless perfection is actually attainable, but by tending towards perfection is the surest way to find out. So, again, the correct solution is not to ban the technology. I mean it may be a good short-term solution but it's patchwork.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242974)

Laws themselves are patchwork. Each one represents the failing of understanding. You don't know how to get people to stop driving drunk so you outlaw it, you don't know how to get people to stop gassing each other so you outlaw it.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#37243044)

Well then the correct solution would be to remove the need or desire for people to want to gas each other...

Good luck with that. I'm sure that if I just fly over the middle East farting rainbows on everyone there won't be a single extremist left that wants to do me harm. A perfect loving world would be really nice and most of us really want one. But that world doesn't exist and never will.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | more than 3 years ago | (#37244290)

Well not with that attitude mister.

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37246198)

Which is the real problem? The drugs or the border? Or the thugs at the border?

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 3 years ago | (#37248378)

Problem?

No, Solution! ;)

Re:Drugs over a border anyone? (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 3 years ago | (#37261088)

depends on your perspective

so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37241448)

Its like a mechanical homing pigeon? with upgraded carrying capacity?

imagination (1)

SethThresher (1958152) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241488)

Why is it that I have the feeling I'm not picturing this right when I imagine UAVs just flying overhead, shooting loaded syringes at priority targets?

Re:imagination (1)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241688)

That's Phase 2.

Makes sense (3, Funny)

Fr05t (69968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241558)

Once UAVs have delivered bombs to critical infrastructure, UAVs can deliver the things the infrastructure used to enable the delivery of. Maybe Disney can do a song about the circle of UAVs.

Re:Makes sense (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241604)

After all, as President Obama has made repeatedly very clear, the bombs dropped on Libya were part of a humanitarian mission, not a war.

Re:Makes sense (1)

SethThresher (1958152) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242084)

"It's the CIRRRRCLE of strife!"

Re:Makes sense (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#37245898)

I just had this idea of a UAV with syringe duct tapped on the wing tip. Some guy, out in the middle of No Where, is on his cell phone saying, "OK, my pants are down, and I am bending over." And the UAV Controller is fighting desperately to keep off center.

Communism! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37241582)

Even more taxpayer money spent to feed and care for freeloaders living carefree in distant sunny lands.

This won't fly... (3, Insightful)

martijnd (148684) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241586)

Even seen the rain during the rainy season ? That little toy copter isn't even going to get off the ground.

Wrong budget, instead of trying to get money from the medical development people, they should just get it from the spooks/black ops people.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241682)

True, I wonder if maybe a fixed-wing craft might do better, but even then when it really starts pouring in a tropical region, it's going to be like trying to fly through a waterfall.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241686)

I'd guess those men and women already have all the drones they need, and aren't worried about coming in under cost of a courier.

Re:This won't fly... (2)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241886)

Why aren't they using airships/blimps? Better payload, which allows larger batteries = longer runtime, larger range and larger amount of drugs so more destinations per trip, less expensive than quadcopters, won't "fall out of the sky" like quadcopters, rain will not hurt a blimp as much as it would quadcopter.

Blimps do get blown around a bit but I'm sure these hand-held quadcopters don't do well in heavy wind either, and a blimp is far less likely to crash than a quadcopter. Blimp would be larger but it doesn't sound like size is a huge concern, this isn't a spy drone to see enemy positions, it's a efficient delivery system.

Quadcopter would be nice for a once-in-awhile delivery or when seconds count making speed is crucial, but a blimp would be better for daily use or when you can wait a few minutes for the drugs to arrive.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241930)

Because blimps are slow (bye bye speed advantage), helium is bloody expensive (and rightly so), and people are scared of hydrogen-filled bags.

Re:This won't fly... (2)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242504)

Because blimps are slow (bye bye speed advantage), helium is bloody expensive (and rightly so), and people are scared of hydrogen-filled bags.

No, blimps can be very fast, try 55km/h (34mph) for this RC blimp. [youtube.com] Reason blimps can be as fast as copters is they use all of their thrust to move forward like an airplane, not wasting it to provide lift. Besides they're claiming the quadcopter only has a 10km range. [cnet.com] At 55km/h that's barely 6 minutes, that's "quick" when you don't have access to roads. While they have not released the speed of their quadcopter I found this forum post that says a MikroKopter (MK) Quadcopter does 36mph [rcgroups.com] which is equivalent to the blimp.

Helium is not that expensive, not when you're comparing it to a quadcopter with multiple charging stations and is more likely to crash.

As for being afraid have you not seen a quadcopter? It's four propellers moving very fast and sounding like 1,000 angry bees. [youtube.com] A quadcopter is probably one of the scariest sounds in the world.

Quadcopters have their place, they're small, stealthy and fun, but I don't think they make a good daily delivery system.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 3 years ago | (#37244880)

It's four propellers moving very fast and sounding like 1,000 angry bees. A quadcopter is probably one of the scariest sounds in the world.

Quadcopters have their place, they're small, stealthy and fun, but I don't think they make a good daily delivery system.

It sounds like 1,000 angry bees but is stealthy? I'm not sure you can do both.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

1karmik1 (963790) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337960)

A sound footprint in the audible band is relevant only in extremely close range. Have you ever sat close to an F-117 "Stealth" Fighter in full thrust? It's silent only after it has blown your ear drums. What you want is Radar stealth. On top of that, Quadcopters of this size _also_ have optical stealth due to their small size.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#37243954)

I agree that blimps have significant problems, especially in poor weather conditions (if you're fighting much of a wind, your blimp will be going backwards, no matter how much you wind the engines up), but I'm not so sure that people are all that afraid of a hydrogen-filled bag as long as they aren't on-board.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

edelholz (1098395) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242222)

Blimps aren't effective whatsoever. You roughly need one liter of helium to lift one gramm. Plus, any kind of wind makes it impossible to head for that direction.
A model sail plane should exceed blimps in most categories: power usage, max payload, speed.

IMHO, blimps only make sense above a certain threshold size, which is a very high treshold.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | more than 3 years ago | (#37244032)

Why aren't they using airships/blimps? Better payload, which allows larger batteries = longer runtime, larger range and larger amount of drugs so more destinations per trip, less expensive than quadcopters, won't "fall out of the sky" like quadcopters, rain will not hurt a blimp as much as it would quadcopter. Blimps do get blown around a bit but I'm sure these hand-held quadcopters don't do well in heavy wind either, and a blimp is far less likely to crash than a quadcopter. Blimp would be larger but it doesn't sound like size is a huge concern, this isn't a spy drone to see enemy positions, it's a efficient delivery system. Quadcopter would be nice for a once-in-awhile delivery or when seconds count making speed is crucial, but a blimp would be better for daily use or when you can wait a few minutes for the drugs to arrive.

I think there is a basic flaw in the idea of a large, undefended, slow moving target carrying medical supplies. I mean, I'm no African warlord, but I would see this as a really good idea, if I were...

Re:This won't fly... (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 3 years ago | (#37248970)

blimps have been looked at for mass delivery due to cheaper fuel (albeit slower transportation than eg planes) but it just doesn't work so far.
wind pushes them too much, its still slow and unreliable.
planes are the most reliable, as in fixed wing planes. that's the same for smaller UAVs

Re:This won't fly... (2)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241890)

Hopefully this is the wrong picture, but indeed, such platform is very inefficient and won't fly far (both because of the power required, super tiny payload and radio range when electronics are packed like that)

A regular airplane parachuting the goods would however make a lot of sense. I've seen a few people with such projects.
We've planes that can take a couple kilograms of payload and fly 50km and back on electric, 100 on fuel, with radio, video signal going just as far and the whole thing being on autopilot anyway.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241958)

Radio range? I assumed these were operating autonomously. A quadcopter can certainly take off and land somewhere else autonomously. Then maybe the person on the other end takes the cargo, charges it back up, then pushes a button and puts it back on the landing pad, and 30 seconds later it takes off and returns.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 3 years ago | (#37248998)

you're free to put your trust into a computer system and american's GPS naviguation system but i'd rather have a manual control link as backup, specially when im carrying medicine for people in need.
Note that i'm talking planes, hence parachuting. Helicopters (incl. quads etc) have such shitty fuel range and power/weight ratio that they're not going to "fly" for such deliveries.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37249220)

You could have a hybrid quadcopter / body wing type plane, there are a couple of different ways to pull it off (either a tailsitter or basically a flying wing with 4 holes in it), the only trouble is that vertical takeoffs will reduce the payload capacity.

Re:This won't fly... (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#37246196)

The MMIST CQ-10 SnowGoose [mmist.ca] would seem to be a much better choice for precision dropping medicines and supplies to remote areas. They can carry over 200kg of supplies and have a range of up to 800km. They can take off and land in a small area. The unit can use either a parafoil or gyrocopter blades. They can be deployed from the ground or dropped from a cargo plane.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 3 years ago | (#37249036)

Cost the same as a real heli tho. If you need 200kg of payload you can probably do that with a real plane.

Note that the focus of this mission is to bring whats necessary to those in need who cannot afford the technology.

that's why they have chosen a small uav, and usually its not large amount of medicine (maybe in the future when making big planes would be cheaper)

think of it more like, "we need urgently vaccine XXX or 10 will die"

ordering a real plane or heli to deliver costs too much and would take a week to setup.

sending a small drone (granted that you have one already setup for this kind of stuff) takes 5min and cost nothing once you paid the 1000-5000EUR setup once (well, it costs recharging batteries and maintenance but thats nearly nothing)

Re:This won't fly... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242026)

I actually read the article when it was in the submission queue and minused it for being stupid.

They talk about using it for rainy season and snowstorms and such, but those are the times you're better off with a "kid on a bike" - or even a St. Bernard.

First, those things just won't fly in heavy storms.

Second, even if they did. rainstorms play heck with the radio signal.

Third, what's to stop someone from intercepting it (either hijack the radio signal, or just suspend a net in its' path)

Fourth - shotgun target practice.

Re:This won't fly... (2)

edelholz (1098395) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242318)

I've flown hobby-level UAV in heavy winds and a snow storm. Even a basic autopilot far exceeds what is possible to a human pilot. Having seen what stunts are possible with those quads, they are very close to being able to perform anything what the laws of physics allow. The only worry I'd have is waterproofing the thing, the increased power consumption and battery lifetime during prolonged, intensive use in the cold.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

ginbot462 (626023) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242742)

The bigger concern wouldn't be flying UAVs in bad conditions as GP mentioned, but protecting the supplies from drop to receipt. Honestly, snow storms would help for lot of medical supplies (e.g. penicillin) - too bad the places that could benefit the most are in hot/arid/desert conditions.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

ginbot462 (626023) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242652)

This submission is lacking, but not for the reasons given. These are not the first people to do this - and really it is just combo thing anyways (i.e. airdrops + UAVs) like smartphones so it's all about execution and detail.

I agree talking about storms is misleading, but if not talking geomagnetic, solar, or severe thunder storms it shouldn't be issue for radio communication at the proper frequency range. If you can, you're better off waiting for conditions to clear. If the supplies had to be flown, you could mitigate some problems by flying above the cloud.

The signal should be encrypted, but physically intercepting aid is ALWAYS a problem. Probably not a big deal in this case though. 1. Not as much supplies, so not as much motivation to intercept. 2. These would probably not be Predator sized UAVs, so difficult to detect. 3. Hitting a small target at a high altitude with conventional guns? This is real life.

Spot

Re:This won't fly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37242172)

Drug runners and spooks??
Nah
Larger market replacing delivery boys.
Pizza - fastest delivery possible.
Newspapers - no stupid moron racing through your neighborhood throwing papers in the backs of trucks.
USPS - this won't leave footprints in your garden.

On second thought, not sure unemployment could handle that miracle...

Re:This won't fly... (3, Interesting)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#37243904)

Wrong budget, instead of trying to get money from the medical development people, they should just get it from the spooks/black ops people.

Bah. Why are we so eager to fund the military-industrial complex, bringing death and destruction around the globe, instead of trying to reduce suffering in the world? Are we really doing ourselves any favors by bombing the entire third world? Really?

Look, I'm old enough to know that I'm just a wide-eyed, naive dreamer, but I really can't help but hope that eventually, we'll grow out of this phase the human race is in.

Re:This won't fly... (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 3 years ago | (#37250038)

Wouldn't need much work to weather-proof it.

Re:This won't fly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37257246)

Wrong budget, instead of trying to get money from the medical development people, they should just get it from the spooks/black ops people.

As a member of the team that developed Matternet, I can tell you that the reason that we don't want money from the "spooks/black ops people" is that we want to do something that's good for the world.

discovering alternative search engines (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37241628)

are there any? may as well look for clean energy, as the same system appLIES, whereas the trickle of inf. is funneled down from the keepers of the big gushers, & all made to look genuinely balanced, when, in fact, there is none (balance).

What a relief! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37241656)

I first read that as "Delivering Medicine By UAW [jalopnik.com] "

I was afraid that my surgeon would arrive drunk and the nurses high.

In Pakistan however .... (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241668)

Just strap a couple bottles of Amoxicillin to the Hellfire missile carried by the Predator UAV and call it a day. Patient cured!

Is it a bird? Is is a plane? (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#37241836)

NO! It's the drug-drone!

And UAV is what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37241938)

Probably something like unmanned aerial vehicle, but you wouldn't necessarily know because TFS doesn't explain it and TFA doesn't even include it. It's good journalism (yes, I know, I must be new here) to explain an acronym in parentheses after its first mention.

Re:And UAV is what? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242052)

I'm afraid you've missed the boat on this one. "UAV" is a widely-recognized algorithm at this point. (And yes, it's about unmanned aerial vehicles. Which should just be called "flying robots" at this point.)

Re:And UAV is what? (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#37244022)

sed "s/algorithm/acronym/"

Re:And UAV is what? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#37246246)

Excuse (if applicable): it was before noon.

Delivery options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37242042)

[ ] Regular
[ ] Overnight
[ ] Instant

Vernor Vinge's "Rainbow's End" (2)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242064)

Has one of these that figures somewhat prominently in the plot. It is, however, something a bit more robust than an "UAV", it is described as a "FedEx launcher" that sends a sub-orbital(!) package launched by a electro-magnetic railgun(?).

I guess it's the direct descendant of that DARPA hypersonic craft (that crashed at Mach 22). Anyway, it's when you absolutely positively need it ... anywhere in the world in the next hour! (hopefully there will be other old-timers here who'll remember that jingle).

Anyway, strongly recommend the book (Rainbow's End). Vernor Vinge as many of you know is a computer scientist who coined the term "Singularity" (or was it Virtual Reality?). Anyway, the book is a really good read "with one foot set in the near future" and is speculatively realistic with great technical details. Of course, his really great novel is "A Fire Upon The Deep" but I digress.

It's time to join the 21st century (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37242120)

So many problems of humanity are the result of people living in bad places. People need to join the 21st century and come live in places connected to life and suitable to modern human existence.

Maybe then we could stop wasting so many resources combating problems and devote them instead to forward progress. The more we spend pointlessly fighting natural barriers and entropy the less available for real progress.

We've been shipping food to people living in deserts for how many decades now? And the solution is more technology to deliver food to deserts? Why not come to where the food is?

Re:It's time to join the 21st century (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242544)

We've been shipping food to people living in deserts for how many decades now? And the solution is more technology to deliver food to deserts? Why not come to where the food is?

Because everyone living in a refugee camp in Darfur has enough savings for that condo overlooking Park Avenue. And we'll welcome them with open arms as they cross our borders just like the people wading across the Rio Grande today.

You think we hate immigrants (in the USA)? In certain countries, you'll be set on fire if you are wearing the wrong hat in someone's neighborhood.

Re:It's time to join the 21st century (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#37244154)

Seriously?

Do you think people starving in the desert are they because they simply like to live there? Do you really think it's just that easy? Pack up and move to the big city, where there's a Wal-Mart and Safeway on every street corner! Voila! Problem solved! Man...why didn't they think of that already? </sarc>

"An internets of things ..." (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242164)

I can see so many wrongs about this phrase, as well as so many rights.... it would work.

Stoners rejoice (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242178)

This technology will eventually hit 7-11 and thank god we can finally get our twinkies delivered at 2am.

Hearts And Minds, Hearts And Minds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37242204)

Such a very, very positive spin on a very interesting concept indeed! Thanks god these robots will be delivering medicine to the poor, needy, desperate starving, children!

Let's make a Disney movie about this, call it: 101 Robots with Dalmatian Paint Jobs

Has anyone explored the idea that these "next billion" people are not being directly enabled to provide for themselves (oh, but that's impossible isn't it?), and that should these "magical robots" ever fail, they are stranded and threatened with exposure, starvation, disease, pestilence, other biblical horrors, etc etc?

Yes! let's create a class of people utterly dependent on robots, incapable of acquiring food, medicine, what have you. After they are locked in, and subservient to robotic leverage, I bet we can make force them into all KINDS of behaviors.

Very forward thinking.

Re:Hearts And Minds, Hearts And Minds (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#37244230)

Look, I totally agree with the "teach a man to fish" metaphor. But sometimes, when you are starving and riddled with disease, you won't survive long enough to learn to how to better take care of yourself unless someone gives you a fish or two along the way.

I'm cynical enough to agree that this tech could certainly be abused in such a way as to create exactly the kind of subservient welfare class you are describing, but I'm still optimistic enough to be excited about a positive use for UAV/UAS technology.

Fun new game kids! (2)

jdbannon (1620995) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242240)

Bombs or bandages? Wave to the plane and find out!

Re:Fun new game kids! (1)

Kvasio (127200) | more than 3 years ago | (#37248280)

surprise: anthrax

Anti-aids drugs (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242560)

Aids is a huge problem in Africa and there is a high need for anti-aids drugs or people will die.

So, what do the people in Africa do? Steal the drugs to use them to get high... you think your money is going to save a persons life and you are just paying for someones high who doesn't care one shit he is killing someone else for it.

You can come up with a million and one schemes in the west but until you manage to deal with this element you never get anywhere.

These high tech devices will be stolen by the bucket load. Don't believe it? Google for copper theft and that even happens in the west. You can just put high value objects along with poor people and expect them to remain untouched. Sad but true. The minority ruins it for the majority.

Re:Anti-aids drugs (1)

ginbot462 (626023) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242992)

>> These high tech devices will be stolen by the bucket load.

If these "high tech devices" were just parachuted modules, that wouldn't be the issue. This thing, well yeah. Parachuted supplies might be spotted. If technique is used long enough, you might have people watching out for them. Then stealing them before the intended recipient or shaking them down. If THAT became a problem, the people needing it wouldn't want these drops drawing attention them because they don't want to be curb stomped by some thug.

>> Google for copper theft and that even happens in the west.

Alabama =? National Champions ... Roll tide I guess...
http://blog.al.com/wire/2011/08/alabama_leads_the_nation_in_th.html [al.com]

So bad, they park police next to the utility trucks now.

Re:Anti-aids drugs (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 3 years ago | (#37243098)

> These high tech devices will be stolen by the bucket load.
That's where the UAV's big brother carrying missiles and flame throwers enters the scene.

Re:Anti-aids drugs (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37246238)

You can't get high on anti-retrovirals.

Re:Anti-aids drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37246462)

That doesn't stop them from trying.

Somewhere in Afghanistan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37242774)

(Some years from now when this is deployed...)

A drone comes flying over a remote village. Someone notices it approaching. "The Americans are attacking!", he yells. "RUN!!!"

Everyone within earshot runs. A village elder is so scared he collapses and dies of a heart attack. The "bomb" finally lands, but doesn't explode. Finally, after the village elder's body is cold, someone gets the courage to go over and take a look at the "bomb". "Oh, perfect," he announces, "heart medicine!"

What's the kid on a bike going to do now? (1)

isaac (2852) | more than 3 years ago | (#37242798)

At least hiring the kid on a bike gives the kid on a bike a job.

Hypothetically, say a UAV can do the kid's job for 20% less per delivery. What are the kid's prospects now that the delivery business has been taken over by a robots? What about the kid's family who depended on that income?

I'm no luddite - it's not as though e.g. manufacture of antiretroviral medications can or should be done by people stirring pots by hand - but this doesn't sound like a good use of automation.

A much more interesting innovation in distribution is filling the extra space in Coca-Cola crates with pods for delivering medicines, leveraging the awesome distribution network of Coca-Cola (which is available in some of the most remote inhabited places on Earth.) See http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/-/2558/633148/-/r17ejdz/-/index.html [theeastafrican.co.ke]

-Isaac

Re:What's the kid on a bike going to do now? (1)

ginbot462 (626023) | more than 3 years ago | (#37243348)

Points for most even handed comment in thread so far (except mine of course :). The problems with this isn't technology but people (they are always getting in the way!). UAVs could serve a niche use, but the benefits of using locals (where applicable) can't be over emphasized. Teach a man to fish and all that.

Love the Coca-Cola distribution system. Talk about thinking inside the crate.

Schizo doesn't count as even handed? Who said that?

But but but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37243108)

I thought 3D printers were replicators? Can't we just beam power at these people from our orbital solar power stations to their 3D printers?

Already Available - MMIST Snowgoose (1)

codesmith.ca (251628) | more than 3 years ago | (#37244324)

Suprised nobody has mentioned these folks.

MMIST Snowgoose UAV [mmist.ca] has a 260 kg (575lb) payload in 6 individual cargo bays. Can fly to co-ordinates and drop specific cargo.

And it's in production and in use by several militaries already.

Why not? (1)

alendit (1454311) | more than 3 years ago | (#37244828)

UAVs already deliver freedom, one bomb at a time.

My saint bernard is going to be pissed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37250478)

So gone are the days of a dog showing up in a snowstorm with some brandy tied around his neck?

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